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A Food First Journey 

From Zermatt to St. Moritz, there's more to life than skiing

After almost a week of skiing in Zermatt, I had planned to soul-search, or at least pretend to be in deep thought, aboard the Glacier Express to St. Moritz. A slow “express” train in a country of calm efficiency, complete with a multicourse meal and wine pairings? Heaven. Eight hours of mountain viewing and daydreaming to inspire my most creative thinking! Alas, my expectations were dashed the minute I realized the Brazilian “influencer” seated across from me would be documenting every inch of the journey—going live—her voice shriller with each glass of wine. 


But back to Zermatt. I’ll let you get skiing advice from an expert; I’m here to talk about the food. Our daily plans had a formula: leisurely hotel breakfast, ski, on-piste lunch and in-town dinner. As you may guess, fondue and raclette are de rigueur, but I was surprised to experience some of the best salads of my life while in the shadow of the Matterhorn. Mâche—the absolute best lettuce in my opinion—often called “Feldsalat” or “lamb’s lettuce” in these parts, provided a modicum of health during this sybaritic sojourn.


And while we experienced some absolutely fantastic and oh-so-cozy dinners, it was the lunches—much anticipated after a couple hours on the slopes—that were the highlight of our gluttony. In fact, we got in a habit of considering canceling dinner after each lunch, but then determining to simply push the dinner hour a couple hours later. 


The absolute musts for lunch in Zermatt: Chez Vrony, Findlerhof, Zum See, Blatten.


In terms of the après-ski situation, we found most options in town existed on the dive-bar-frat-house spectrum. Thankfully, we found our way to Ferdinand terrace at Cervo Mountain Resort, which provides a fantastic après scene—the exact vibes an American anticipates if skiing in Europe, from hot mugs of Jägertee to fur-clad Russians dancing to house music. 


My take: We will absolutely be back—likely both for another ski trip, but also for a summer trip. Zermatt is the perfect size Alpine town, totally walkable and with plenty to explore, but not enough options to induce any dreaded FOMO. With no cars allowed in town, you can almost hear the snowfall. It’s simply an easy and truly relaxing place. 

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I arrived in St. Moritz with a very loose plan (read: no plan) to discover the art scene of the Engadin valley. And put some Michelin stars in my belly.


A small amount of research led me to Villa Flor, an absolute gem of a boutique art hotel a couple villages from St. Moritz, in S-chanf. Proprietor Ladina Florineth hosts art exhibits and artists at the stately home, treating guests as friends—offering recommendations and even train drop-offs. Having her personable poodle, Fritz, greet me at breakfast was a welcome bonus to my stay.


Despite feeling incredibly calm, quiet and traditional, the towns of the Engadin valley are quick and easy to traverse by train. There is a definite juxtaposition between history and modernity here—glimpse into a building from the 1600s and you may see a newly renovated and incredibly clean-lined, sleek kitchen. 


This melding of old and new is also on display at the Muzeum Susch. Set within the remnants of a medieval monastery founded in 1157, the modern art museum features and celebrates many female artists, offering greater visibility for artists often overlooked. The current exhibit, Hannah Villiger: Amaze Me, provides a comprehensive survey of the Swiss artist’s works, including many enlarged Polaroid photographs. The exhibit runs through July 2, 2023.


Most of my daylight hours were spent aimlessly wandering the serene villages of Zuoz, S-chanf, Guarda and Susch. I couldn’t get enough of the faded, artistic facades, the whimsical and detailed paintings adorning seemingly every structure. This traditional method of etching with lime and plaster is called Sgraffito and dates back to the 17th century. While the handicraft is still taught and used, it is less often employed on new builds. 


My visit through the Engadin wouldn’t have been complete without a few over-the-top meals. The entire region around St. Moritz is flush with Michelin-starred dining options. After conferring with Ladina, I opted to try Chesa Stüva Colani in Madulain, as well as Krone in La Punt Chamues-ch. Krone, helmed by British chef James Baron, has been open for less than one year and has already earned its first Michelin star. Chef Paolo Casanova at Chesa Stüva Colani, also with one Michelin star, presented an assortment of truffles tableside, measuring and generously shaving them atop a mound of pasta. Both chefs were personable and warm—and both restaurant environments were comfortable and unpretentious. 


My tasting notes from both dinners are a little fuzzy. That’s what happens when you enjoy the moment. Take this as a sign to head to Switzerland and savor it all for yourself.

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